Tag Archives: travis keats ross

▶ Dakota Slim – Night Thief

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by DEVIN W. MILLER

Here’s a brand new song from the long slumbering Slim as he continues the construction of a new e.p. (CACTUS CROWN) and progress on the comic book/record remains steady!

Please visit THE REVEL REVIVAL for all projects concerning Revel Rosz (Travis Keats Ross) henceforth!

And of course, be sure to leer at WE THE HALLOWED for major news on the art collective/ religion Slim cotton’s to.

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SPARE ∴ SPELLS “NEON/NOIR”

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The new project of Travis Keats Ross (Dakota Slim), Justin Shelp (Elegant Bachelor) and Rén Rosz (We, The Hallowed) released their debut double E.P. on Halloween 2015.  You can buy/stream SPARE SPELLS‘ “NEON/NOIR” via every major digital music site. 
Or check it out here: 

NEON / NOIR on BANDCAMP

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“HITHERTO THE aMiNals” —– REDUX and DIGITAL RE-RELEASE!

 

 

(c) Dakota Slim and Ryan W. Brewer 2008

(c) Dakota Slim and Ryan W. Brewer 2008

Finally, the final album from DAKOTA SLIM to be re-released, “Hitherto The aMiNals” is now available in all major online retailers such as iTUNES, SPOTIFY, AMAZON, GOOGLE PLAY, ETC. This particular release is special due to a different cover from Ryan Brewer and new track listing that separates it from the original release on Bladen County Records
This means that the 6 records which document my artistic growth and output throughout the last decade are now widely available for the first time. This process has had me relive the amazing artistic life I have been gifted thus far, and instilled an incredible amount of excitement for what I have planned for the next decade. I’M ONLY GETTING STARTED.  KEEP YOUR HEARTS CROSSED AND YOUR EYES PEELED FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER!

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24 and so much MORE…

Well,

I turned the boring, even-intergered, age of 24 on the 23rd of FEBRUARY

Shit is good, yet harrowingly familiar.  I’ll get RIGHT this time around;  I took two months off of a strict music diet (for the first time in ten years) to focus on those  “oh so trivial, yet, hauntingly appropriate” societal standards I inheritley rebel against.  And I’ve done too well.  My cosmic trifecta is beautifully punget:  incorragible addiction to a woman, steady work, and consistant crotch-rot art.  Its been too long to wax nonchalance.

“THE BUNGLED AND THE BOTCHED” finally was released in December… sure, it was spear-headed by a need to release material consistantly and without too much introspection.  Of course, both records bubbled in my arteries as I scrambled to perfect their concepts.  I was happy to release the album to my bretheren in Oakland with handmade double-discs at the OASIS bar. I say “goodriddance”, though, thank JACK for the medium.   

I just made the BUNGLED and the BOTCHED availbe for FREE  at BANDCAMP.   If I was an artist that thought I could ever make money doing exactly what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t create, I would join ROGUE WAVE.

own “THE BUNGLED” and “THE BOTCHED”. >>>>>> http://dakotaslim.bandcamp.com/ 

I released another 7 song WEB-ONLY ALBUM entitled “GOD GONNA GET ME RIGHT”.  The record was paranthetical to the ideals of the B&B but with fervent retaliation: DOING IT ALL MY GODDAMMED SELF.  I wrote and recorded this album of somber and ethereal pish-posh betwixt other projects all by lonesome as a cathartic and vexed epiphany of where I was as a self-sufficient artist. 

You can download “GOD GONNA GET ME RIGHT” for free if you FRIEND ME on facebook: Travis Keats Ross > My Band > Tracks 3-9

TRACKLIST:

1. Tin-Can Vagabond

2. And It Won’t

3. First A Cough, Tomorrow A Corpse

4. Dead

5. Come Around

6. Droner

7. Don’t Hark

GOD GONNA GET ME RIGHT” is the first half of yet another double album concept.  The other?…

DEVIL GONNA MAKE ME FAMOUS” :  should be out by June.

I’m through messin’ around.

 (fresh: not determined).

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THE BUNGLED & THE BOTCHED released, 12/12/09


Listen to THE BUNGLED and THE BOTCHED at http://www.dakotaslim.bandcamp.com

I have been working on two narrative albums for over 2 years. The writing started amidst the release of my last album, Hitherto The Aminals, and production occurred in many places along the western United States. The common occurrence of bad decision making, rebellion against societal standards, and incessant drive to create have befuddled me since I realized the weight of every action I make. If “Aminals” was a loose narrative on my prediliction to American Folklore, The Bungled and The Botched would take the same lyrical writing to despondant, confused, angered and resolved situations that surround my personal life.

I posted this on myspace to explain the metaphorical narrative of THE BUNGLED and THE BOTCHED back in June of 2008:

“The Bungled and The Botched, 14 tracks, recorded in Oakland, CA and Portland, OR respectively:

This musical process (as with any creative process) can be daunting. not so much the process of the said “write/record” loop, but the problems concerning motivation versus drive. The need for productivity and the set backs caused by means of creating that productivity. These set backs could include necessity for materials outside financial means, below standard health habits, and negative effects due to an inability to change one’s environment.

I own nothing materially worth anything. But am instead a participant in a sect of people who exist to create and become buckled under their own self-critiscm and cross examination pertaining to their creations. Everything else that doesn’t concern passion, love and the pursuit to dig (and to dig deep) remains immaterial in this sect. This can cause one to lag in the hue of general perception. Eating dirt is delicious, but it can be devalued to the point of losing its taste.

I am thoroughly concerned with how much other assholes affect what I think about myself, you know? Are their ideals poisoning ours? Or am I allowing myself to feel as if I am societal miscreant? I respectively choose the latter.

It is still romantic (first word that comes to mind) to not identify with the idea of work. It is romantic to exist, with a smile, amongst dread and the art of scraping by. It is imperative to us, The Bungled and The Botched, to realize that, in a small amount of time we will die and the “what-if’s” that come after, a beautiful blunder, that should be truly exciting to us all. But, who the fuck knows, right?

Dilapedated Beds, Broken Shoes, A Myriad of Different and Mysterious Ailments, The Incessant Need for Duct Tape and Super Glue, The Derelict Neighborhoods, The Long and Harrowing Mornings, The Zest Then Regret, The Hair in the Tub, Boutings with Black Magick, The Circumstantial Hygiene, The Want for Youth while Growing Old, The Romance of Ol’ Scratch, The Adoration of an Absent Family, and The Beginning of Sinning.
This is How We Do.

The Zydeco Funeral is recording THE BUNGLED (co-produced with Jeff Schenk) in Oakland (July 2008)
The seven songs are in the vain of what Nietzche said about us losers:

When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest orders, the underworld of the ancient world, and began seeking power among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with exhausted men, but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture — in brief, strong men, but bungled men.

ISOLATOR and Dakota Slim [The Hallowed March] will be recording the second half of the album trans-westcoast (Portland and Oakland) entitled THE BOTCHED (co-produced with Dominque Reveneau) (july 2008)
The Seven Songs are about us as societal dregs:

Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianity — he saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against quality, of the weak and timorous against the strong and enterprising, of the botched against the fit.”

The recording and technical process of both albums unavoidably exemplifies these ideas as well.

“THE BUNGLED” started with home demos (one of which, “Cruel Lastima”, is actually used) recorded by my lonesome at a then girlfriend’s apartment in Korea Town, Oakland. Though my collegiate lifespan at Expression College was shortlived, I had managed to find a keen partner and all-around sonic patron in Jeff Schenk. We had performed early versions of these songs sometimes as a duo, and sometimes as a chaotic 6 piece. We moved the demos to the studios of Expression, where I recorded most of the junk percussion and rhythm guitar parts. Later, we would return to the school to finish vocals.

Jeff and I had played these songs with a revolving cast of so many local musicians that the finished product seems to be a perfect semi-colon in the Dakota Slim discography, leaving many members behind, and allowing the hope for many more to join.

This is why the finished document is a prime example of young nefarious musicians dipping their skin into my amorphous pool of songs. Around this time, Jeff and I, along with my great friend and confidant, Ryan Stively (Port O’ Brien) were performing all over San Francisco and Oakland. I was hosting a futon in a friend’s sleephole on Apgar st. in Oakland when I decided to dub the revolving, and inconsistent, backing crew The Zydeco Funeral. The Funeral’s pique consisted of Danni Finneman‘s involvement as a back-up singer; Danni drew me to a large crowd of fellow naysayers including another back up vocalist (Rayna Kilroy), junk percussionists (Dave Campbell and Sterling Leva), and whatever ghoul or goblin we knew around Mama Buzz that wanted to shout or bang on beer bottles. You can hear Danni’s hauntingly beautiful voice over the home recorded “Cruel Lastima” and “Now I slumber”, which is the coda to this musical outing. Danni remains the only member of that large community that I encapsulated on record.

After most of the auxillary players dissolved, Jeff and I remained. Not soon after, I seduced a Mr. Ryan Parks to embark on these recordings. Parks would later round out the overtly re-recorded material with his superb bass playing and drumming on songs like “Salvo, Siempre, Salvo” and “Que Locura.” Parks is an amazing songwriter himself, which is exemplified with his work with NO’s and B.Hamilton. Our collaboration on The Bungled would later evolve into the B.Hamilton/Dakota Slim hybrid THE AWFUL LOT with long-time Dakota Slim performance drummer Bill Crowley, of Oakland’s finest instrumental hip-hop crew, ShinythingsRo-z (Wordsky, Good Mitten/Bad Mitten) contributed her amazing voice to “Que Locura” and her awesome fiddle skills to “Zydeco Funeral”Roberto Miguel played the slickest trombone, I’ve ever had on any recording, on “Que Locura.” And Mr. Blake Ellington Larson (Belly of the Whale, Porchlife) and Ryan James allowed me to throw their choral duties on “Las Resultas”.

Even though I feel the album to bit a bit unfinished, I can’t deny the relevance to the “Bungled” creedo. The somewhat disgruntled production, the janky instrumentation, and nervous vocals do well to place me in the nervous sunlight of the Bay Area in the late 20-oughts.

“THE BOTCHED” was retardedly simple to compose.  I recorded vocals, guitars, and banjos then shot the files to my boy in Portland, Oregon, Dominique Reveneau (who produced and engineered “The Hymns of Dakota Slim) where his band Isolator (Colin and Nate) dumped there amazing talent on top and created the most sonically amazing album I’ve ever been a part of.  The Hallowed March was born, and hopefully we will tour and become more of an integrated band, soon.

My artistic life partner, Ryan W. Brewer did the art for both records.  He spent just as much time through trials and tribulations trying to figure out the perfect art for the concept, and he came up with these epically amazing images:

Ryan and I will be working on our graphic novel, ZOZOBRA, next.  I promise it to be nothing less than amazing.

I have found nothing has changed in regards to the aforementioned sentiments that THE BUNGLED AND THE BOTCHED consists of. The only thing is that my bite for a fully satiated creative mind is engulfing my intention, fully, and am disastrously resilient when it comes to being defunct via societal standards.

It’s Finished, and I couldn’t be more proud of my friends and the help I received in making the two best records of my career.  Come help me celebrate all our hard work!


and check out the quick video I made after shooting guns in Arizona for DS + THE HALLOWED MARCH’s “RAZA RHUMBA”

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The Incorrigible Default

What is a boy to do when left to his own devices?  It is frightening when he’s not distracted.  Frightening when his mind is poisoned by the venom of the Great Spider.  Her tangled weave astounds him when he’s left to ponder it.  When he realizes that him, without disruption, is a disastrous debacle of missed connections.  Though the synapses connect rapidly between his ears when he is left to himself, they merely provide a stark realization of just how much he depends on all her other cronies to join him in the fight, and yet, they have their own tangled weaves to forge.

The Great Spider reminded me of my incorrigible default.  Away from my norm in Oakland, but amidst the frenzy of my past in Phoenix, I can sharply revisit my default setting.  My dramatics.  That impending doom.  Doubt.  Doubt. Doubt.  Back on the chain gang.  And weary of the future.

I had spent a blissful couple of months in Oakland this last fall.  The season always warms me to a degree of worry, because one thing a man can count on is changing weather.  And the season is almost at its end.

I was safe during the hold of the day.  I had taken an excursion to bumfuck Arizona on a 4 wheeling trip, packed with guns, and a fantastically homey view of the outdoors that I had sorely missed living in the confines of Oakland.  As I shot a .50 calibur handgun aptly titled “The Judge”, I let the recoil reverberate all of my insides like a magnetic baptism.  I felt at home with great expectations abound.  As we left the final destination, Arizona’s oldest Saloon/Bordello in Crown Creek, I was reminded of the Great Spider’s ineffible will as the stars started to sparkle.  As soon as I had returned to my quarters, I was alone.  I found the magnetic reverberations from the day starting to throw me into a frantic confusion.  I raided the medicine cabinets, made myself a drink, blasted Ricky Nelson, lit a cigarrette and awaited the apocalypse of my good fortune.

I’ve realized that I have been too dependable on others for my happy days.  My default setting reminded me that I have been too above ground because of the celestial connections I’ve encountered this fall, and that me, alone, is more of a realist than I give myself credit for.  In the company of others, I find myself incessantly trying to prove that I’m living the good life, the free life; no matter my poverty or homelessness;  its all Rock and Roll, baby.

The funny thing is, that it is Rock and Roll.  Everything I’ve lived has been truly that, no matter the consequence.  Perhaps that is what keeps me afloat.  The Great Spider reminds me to be cautious, but She is a silly beast always teasing me and allowing me to visit both sides of my spectrum.  And allowing me to understand my ultimate trut: my uncanny ability to do what I want to do, whenever I want, and the utilitarian construct to gain the materials to just that.

If my incorrigable default is that of low expectation in fear of disappointment, it does nothing but help my joints loosen, diaphragm breathe, and cigarrettes taste better.  To take a moment of everyday and realize my cowboy luck is still strong, and in fact, had never wained, is a sedative.  Though, the key is to be appreciative of Her beautiful webs we all weave and the beauty that exists when our respective silks are crossed.

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THE LAMED VOV (for The Dharma Temple)

“The creative spirits are the fecundators: they are the lamed vov who keep the world from falling apart.  Ignore them, suppress them, and society becomes a collection of automotons.”

Henry Miller, 1962

I own nothing materially worth anything.  But am instead a participant in a sect of people who exist to create and become buckled under their own self-critiscm and cross examination pertaining to their creations.  Everything else that doesn’t concern passion, love and the pursuit to dig (and to dig deep) remains immaterial in this sect.  This can cause one to lag in the hue of general perception.  Eating dirt is delicious, but it can be devalued to the point of losing its taste.

The FISH HEAD simply reminds us rogues, naysayers, and ne’r-do-wells that regret is moot.  Everything is encouraged.  What you do, no matter the societal ramifications, is blessed by the serenity of living to live.  Everything is fun, and if it isn’t fun…it’s fucking funny.

Discordianism, no matter the sect, is a facet of controlled chaos.  Manifestation, according to Austin Osman Spare, is dubiously aided by the swift hand of a devilish archetype.  Making things exist, blindly, is a wonderful thing that everyone should practice.  Quit shivering you God-Fearing sissies, it’s time to shine.

It is still romantic  to not identify with the idea of work.  It is romantic to exist, with a smile, amongst dread and the art of scraping by.  It is imperitive to us, The Bungled and The Botched, to realize that, in a small amount of time we will die and the “what-if’s” that come after, a beautiful blunder, that should be truly exciting to us all. 

The Nietzchean idea of The Bungled and The Botched is a bit too fitting.

When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest orders, the underworld of the ancient world, and began seeking power among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with exhausted men, but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture — in brief, strong men, but bungled men.

Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianity — he saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against quality, of the weak and timorous against the strong and enterprising, of the botched against the fit.”

Own up. 

Walk it off.

Smile.

Because,

Dilapedated Beds, Broken Shoes, A Myriad of Different and Mysterious Ailments, The Incessant Need for Duct Tape and Super Glue, The Derelict Neighborhoods, The Long and Harrowing Mornings, The Zest Then Repent, The Hair in the Tub, Boutings with Black Magick, The Circumstantial Hygiene, The Want for Youth while Growing Old, The Romance of Ol’ Scratch, The Adoration of an Absent Family, and The Beginning of Sinning

 is How We Do.

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Fat Magik #1

Things have accumulated in visceral, somewhat predictable, nuances.  They accumulate from spastic jokes told only to myself in transit to somewhere, or from itchy dreams that never resolve to be dreams at all.  Things that ignite cognitive appreciation before they even exist.  This column expounds on these accidental manifestations and trivial incantations.

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Rockman and I sat, half sun bleached – half doused, in one of those creep-ridden day bars along San Cruz’s main drag.  We were killing time waiting for our bus out of that crooked weekend, enjoying the company of the hallowed miscreants that haunt these soulless bars during sunlight.  One such hero was the bartender.  After ambushing our terror rants with a cheers and a greeting, he began divulging, ironically, his woes to us: the soused.  What he told us I can’t exactly recall.  Something or rather about a friend (we surmised that it was his father) getting Cancer.  Sadly, that is not the piece of information that caused me to write about these aforementioned “Accidental Manifestiations”.  Rather, it was the film we bar folk, unanimously, had him put on the bar T.V..  Looking back, it was a slick attempt to get the barkeep to leave us alone.

The film was MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME.

I haven’t thought of the film in years.  Not totally discounting the movie because it was the worst of the Road Warrior trilogy, but sometimes art (in even its most superficial form) from your childhood is stored in the pink ether of your head.  And I had forgotten to give the film its due in quite some time.  We watched, as long as our exit plan allowed us to, and relished in the dissent of Australian Absurdest films.

Rockman and I had a hoot and a holler the three hour treck back to Oakland.  Often citing the fantastically ridiculous scene regarding MasterBlaster’s embargo, and his incessant need for validity from Bartertown’s folk by reminding them who “run” it.

The beginning of the summer was signified, soon after, with the departure of Rockman.  He left me alone to our rebel rousing diplomacy for the remainder of the summer.

The MasterBlaster scene had popped up on numerous occasions throughout the months that followed.  At a bar, yelling “WHO RUN BARTERTOWN?!”, at perfomances (often into the mic) asking the same question, and it ringing between my ears when I was left to my own musings. Always waiting for the eruptive answer:  “MasterBlaster run Bartertown!”  But often silently and concisely to my self:  “MasterBlaster”.

Rockman came back a month or so ago.  To my knowledge, the MasterBlaster jokes resolved completely, yet again.  Even after the incessant need to remind myself of it this time, to remind myself to always remember the post-apocalyptic creep train-wreck that is Beyond Thunderdome.  And then, according to Rockman, while on one of his hikes in Berkeley he found a pile of cheap books and records.  And guess what novel version of an infamous film happened to be laying among them?

Needless to say Rockman was excited about his find.  To anybody else it would be deemed an ironic joke, but to Rockman or I, a find like that results in personal triumph, too hard to contain from onlookers, wildly excited like a freak-bat left in sunlight.

We keep literature on top of the toilet.  Rockman and I share the same affinity for reading secondary literature while on the shitter.  One fateful day, when duty called, I reached behind my head and grabbed the Thunderdome novel.

And behold!  Straight away I dropped on page 52 of Joan Vinge’s adaptation.  The scene was the very scene that had sparked so much harmoniously nostalgic humor.  The same place where I had left the film in my head ever since the first viewing.  The only scene that actually mattered:

…Master turned toward Entity’s lowered periscope and shouted, “Who run Bartertown?”

“Damn it!” Entity’s voice shouted raw with anger.  “I told you–no more embargos.”

Master sniggered again and spoke into Blaster’s ear horn.  “More.”

Blaster gave the wheel another turn.  Now the lights in underworld bagan to dim.  Even the pigs fell silent.

Master looked back at the periscope.  “Who run Bartertown?” he cried.

Silence.

“Who run Bartertown?” Master repeated.

Standing in her bright, airy penthouse high above Bartertown, high above the Underworld, her fists clenched until her nails dug into her palms, Entity forced the words out of her throat.  “You know who…”

“Say,” Master insisted with vindictive satisfaction.

“MasterBlaster, ” Entity whispered…

Forever a sullen lullabye of pop culture’s curse on my entire life.

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The Sideways House

The basis is simple.  The nuclear family construct confined to an unmitigatingly strenuous life because there home is simply…sideways.

Karrey Kinney, as the mother, concisely displays their everyday hardship by breaking some eggs in a pan, and attempting to cook them on the oven, upturned on the wall.  Robert Ben Garant, in a half-assed blond wig, winces and pouts as the daughter.

Thomas Lennon bursts into the scene with an oldfashioned-sitcom-father bravado.  The setup now in place, it quickly becomes forever fantastic when Lennon falls from the front door, which is fashioned closer to the ceiling than to the floor.  He yelps with pain, proclaiming his arm broken.  And, in a feign of desperation cries “DAMN THIS SIDEWAYS HOUSE!”  His voice warbling at the very end, with a loud jerk.  I would never be able to properly immitate Lennon’s amazing delivery.  Too bad, that line is, without a doubt, one of the fucking funniest things i’ve ever heard.  It would be unnatural, and probably beside the point, to make note of it’s superbly philisophical and paradoxical nature.  But I just did, so…

Lennon’s terrible saga spirals as he learns of the death of his son, from falling from a toilet perched high against the scene’s main wall.  Joe Lo Truglio perfectly sprawled out on the floor with a contorted neck and boxers at his ankles.  Michael Ian Black enters as a bizarro Mr. Roper:

“Hey yall, hows everything in this crazy sideways house.”
“…AWFUL!”
“Oh come on, its a little funny. i mean your house… ITS SIDEWAYS.”
“ITS NOT FUNNY! ITS DANGEROUS!
MY BOY IS DEAD, AND THIS HOUSE KILLED HIM, AS IT WILL KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF US!”
Brilliant.

Rediscovering MTV’s The State was long overdue.  Season three especially packed the absurdist whallop and looming comedic horror I have sorely missed.  I had taken for granted the amazing surge of television comedy in my 90’s youth.  Sure, I’ve spent time catching up with Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black, gallivanting the absurd after being in internet and VH1 limbo, respectively, with David Wane being their third on the show Stella.  Or Ken Moreno on the recent, and sadly overlooked, cable show “Party On”.  And definetly with Thomas Lennon, Karrey Kinney, and Robert Ben Garant creating the sensational (yet quickly dated) farce that is Reno 911; probably the most successful outing from ex-Staters.

Revisiting these now hip and elusive comedians at their first outing was as if I was listening to Uncle Tupelo, knowing now that Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar have had exciting artistically relevant carrers since disbanding their first project.

But there has been some degree of the unrealized, of course, as any artist can be accountable for in a long escapade of output and the unflinching need to be self-amused. Reno 911 had expired it’s comedic boundaries long before the film version of the show was released.  The Michael Showalter Showalter was lost on many fans, due to its quiet existence as an internet exclusive.  And everyone got tired of Michael Ian Black commenting on whatever cheap trash Vh1 put together, his humor lost in the confines of the network’s themes and demographics.

Though, the State is readily available on DVD now; there is no need to waste your time with Comedy Central’s soon-to-be canceled rescue attempts of The State’s survivors.  Not that any of the shows they now appear on are wholly bad, there are definetly priceless nuggets in all of them, but save yourself the blind hatred, regret, and often nihilistic backlash when the networks decide to take The Staters away from you again.   Only allowing them to pop up in a myriad of scrambled and hard to follow projects.  Forever thinning out into the comedic ether, forever only available on DVD.

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THE INFALLIBILITY COMPLEX

hyk

May I start reading?

Harold M. Sader stared deeply into the bottom of his porcelain coffee cup; blinking only as the bubbles of his black, morning stew erupted.  His thoughts, although, were not about the sabotage of his tongue due to the pungently cheap coffee inside the cup, but with the cup itself.      

He had often taken this certain mug from the office break-room when he was late to work.  It was always the last one picked, obviously because it was stout, with an ungenerous allotted volume.  Harold often found himself blaming the mug (through some godless, yet cosmic reasoning) for any shoddy events that might transpire throughout the day.  Though, Harold would find that his luck, more often than not, was nil regardless of the existence of this certain mug.  An ever bitter and distrusting man, Harold would never question the contradictory nature of his superstitions.  But the cause of the mug’s deviousness and conspiracy of hatred towards Harold had little to do with its unattractive looks or its notorious stinginess of anything it contained.  The mug’s dress was what riddled Harold with unease:  The insignia on the front; the big red and yellow “S”.

The salt from Harold’s peeled eyes dripped sporadically into the mug.  These tears, however, were not somber as much as they were filled with an unaccepted rage.  It was the last Friday in April and he had managed to get to work on time, all month, having avoided obtaining the unlucky mug.  “Just my fucking luck!” Harold screamed between his ears, “Not today!”

Harold started to accept the unavoidable fate of the day that lay ahead, and his neck lifted to meet the radiance of his computer screen.  Harold placed the mug beside his computer and next to a pad of paper that he used to jot down the names of old films he wanted to see again, as well as doodles of 1930’s movie stars. When he started to come to, appropriately enough for Harold’s newfound disposition, an unwanted voice interrupted.

“Harold, may I see you in my office in fifteen?”

“Of course.”  Harold shot quietly.

The voice forebode the perturbing but affirming events of Harold’s day, and sprang from none other than Harold’s boss, David Salinger.  Salinger’s story…

I believe it’s relevant to mention.

Well, I actually know Dave Salinger very well.  He is the one that introduced me to Maggie.

I’m painting you a picture.

Fine.

Salinger’s story is that of a self-made businessman.  He was an ex-cop.  And although he was simple minded blue collar American (the pay security was his only reason for joining the force), he was cunning in his approach of monetary exploits.  Once he had the training and contacts from his short stance as a beat cop, he quit to venture into the fine, and often boring, life of private investigation.  Aside from investigating insurance fraudulence, which was the financial rake for most modern P.I.s, he had set up a subsidiary company that incorporated his people-searching tools in an almost effortless venture.  Salinger had set up a subsidiary company, Pearl Inc., in just under a year after becoming a P.I.

Pearl Inc. had a simple business model.  Salinger started purchasing lists from the government of American citizens who had never received their tax refunds.  Utilizing his people tracking services and contacts obtained through the P.I. gig, he reached the “owed” citizens and told them about the money that was sitting in limbo for them.  For a 15% finder’s fee, he would connect them to the funds.  The process was arduous, but often worth it to Sally EveryGirl to let go of $300 of a $2,000 find for such a complicated service.  Harold Sader was hired as one of five employees to find these shocked, and often ecstatic, people by computer and telephone.

No shit, you know the company.  That’s your job.  I still have a hard time getting it.  It helps me understand it more if I talk about it.

The pay was above minimum with unexceptional benefits, yet, It supported Harold’s lifestyle just fine.  His wife Maggie and his one bedroom apartment were equally as unexceptional, and, to his chagrin, absurdly manageable.  Harold had become accustomed to low expectation and regarded it highly.  But it must be reinstated of Harold’s often contradictory nature.  Case in point:  his life-long love of fantastical literature and old films; he distasted the newspaper and television programs highly.  The more introverted he felt, the more unique he came to fancy himself, even though the relevance of his life was often a concern of his. This orogoroughs in his mind never failed to result in an unabashed revolt against human interactions.

Harold sulked into Salinger’s office expecting the worse.

Because of the mug, remember?
Salinger said while leaning on his office desk, “Take a seat, Harry.”

“Harold.”

“Come again?”  Salinger did not hear Harold’s muttered correction.

Harold was quick to start, “I was only fifteen minutes late, I…”

“Oh no, Harry.  That’s not why I called you in here.”

“What can I do for you Mr. Salinger?” Harold reposed.

“Well, Harry, I’ve been going over everyone’s numbers, and this isn’t so much a bad thing, as much as a peculiarity.”

Harold, quick to pounce, “How do you mean?  I’ve had a great couple of months, obtaining the highest percentage of money out of anybody!”

“No, I know.  Harry, the funny thing is that you work twice as hard as anybody here.  And after some mathematical reasoning, you really don’t have to.”

“I’m sorry?”  Harold repositioned in his chair.

“If you take last month’s list, for example, you worked every case that was $1,500 and under.  Sure, you were a success 99% of the time…  All I’m saying is that you could have worked four huge accounts instead of …” Salinger looked down at his paperwork, “…twenty-eight, and would have met the quota quicker.”

“I understand.”

Harold had strategically opted not to handle the big clients.  He often grunted to a local bartender and friend, Tom Tully, that if “the people were dumb enough not to figure out the fortune they were missing, they didn’t deserve it.  These fucks ought to be poor.  They could potentially get, from the government mind you, a small fortune that anyone in this damn bar would kill for, and they have no clue it’s there.” He would quip, “I could’ve saved my mother’s life with that kind of money.  Instead I had to force her into a cheap hospice.    When I got out of my service to this country, they left me with nothing.  Those dumb-witted bastards; I should have that money.”
Oh yes, I have failed to mention in this statement so far that Harold had a predilection to stretch the truth.  The bastard, pardon me, was never called on his bullshit…thus… the ever forming incredible reality he made for himself.

How do I mean?  Harold had never served in the army, and his mother is still alive for chrissake.  These tales were comfortable and aggrandizing for Harold’s rather boring reality; no matter how inexplicably dishonest he was, he managed to organize these lies well enough so that the people he knew never found him out.

He never fed Maggie any of that bullshit.  They’re lives were completely separate.

Can you tell how biased I am?  Does this discount me as a witness?

Take a joke.

Yes, um, Salinger’s office…

“Fish for the big ones, get the stragglers after you run the lake dry. “  Salinger remarked, trying to make light of the uncomfortable situation.  Harold was a hard worker, but always made Salinger uneasy.  Especially in one-on-one chats, no matter the context.

“I understand,” Harold said through his crooked teeth.

“I mean, save the little ones for a rainy day, like today, Harry.”

“Yes, Mr. Salinger.”   Harold was quick to exit the conversation.

Harold had not checked the weather report that Friday morning.  As he left the clear glass doors of his one story office building, his knapsack was caught in the door and his scribble ridden papers and a Jules Vern novel fell to the ground.  Instead of quickly picking up the mess, he wide-eyed the ominous gray clouds, allowing them to drip their salt into his bright brown eyes.  He angrily strolled to the metro station, allowing the sweltering wetness to engulf him.  He had accepted the discomfort.  He walked by a newsstand and nabbed a Daily Planet to shield his short brown hair of the wet mess.  He…

As I have mentioned,

… had decided it would be a disastrously and unmitigated hell-of-a-day. And since he had accepted this, it brought him a rebellious comfort in his understanding the weight of his world.

Right before the station, on the corner of 13th and Wilder, he ducked inside a familiar haunt.  Tully’s pub had been a sign of relief for those “S” cup days, or any day for that matter, for over the six years Harold had been married, and an employee at Pearl, Inc. .  Harold used drink as his reward for a moot day.  This last Friday in April was no exception.

Tom Tully, owner of the pub, had been an equal to Harold’s sunny disposition.  Tom was a soldier in the trench of life, who had always quipped fantastically awful tales to match Harold’s woe.  As Harold took his usual seat at the corner of the far end of the dark bar, Tully smirked.  Ready with Harold’s Tap of cheap and watered down beer, over ice, Tom was stopped by the television above Harold.   Harold, meeting Tom’s eyes, careened his head to the television.

“Crowds from all over the world gathered around their television sets, aghast, by the announcement of the complete disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear weaponry.  But how is an even more fantastic story…

That’s right, Sanjay.  It seems that America’s most prized treasure, Superman, was the catalyst of peace in over a decade long struggle with North Korea.  With the exemplary tact of disarming the nation, by way of removing the weapons and freezing them in outer-space,  Superman managed to garner a treaty between North Korea’s and America’s leaders in less than 48 hours without the help of the United Nations.  Truly a celebratory day for American citizens with the threat of North Korea’s proposed attacks finally eliminated.”

I’m sure you remember the day.

People are still worried about where those weapons went.

Anyway…

Tully’s  erupted with cheer.  Tom, still staring at the monitor, set Harold’s drink down on the bar to Harold’s left.  As Tom’s eyes fell from the television they were met by Harold’s disheveled stare.  “Oh come on, Harold, even a curmudgeon like you can relish in this!”

“What the fuck does it matter?” Harold huffed, “We would have just killed them off for good, anyway.  That blue and red bastard just fucked necessary population control.”

“Oh come on, you old jerk, lighten up!”

“I’ve had a less than enjoyable day, Tom.”  Harold was always quick to use pity to his advantage.  “The last thing I need is to see that super-illegal-alien tampering with natural selection, with fucking with our rights as Americans to war when we need to.  We don’t need him to fix our problems!  We were doing fine before he showed up.  Shit, I think things have been worse than ever since he dropped in.”

“He probably saved billions of people.  Fuck, Harold, you were in Desert Storm, you of all people should understand the seriousness of war.”  Tom gave a quick and concerned glance to Harold, and then quickly dropped his head, shaking it.  Tom knew he had given the spark to ignite one of Harold’s terrible tangents.

“First of all, that was Kuwait, Tom.  Any of those crooked bastards should be regarded the same in my eyes.  He can’t stay out of the headlines for one goddammed second.  He loves seeing his perfect face all over the news… him and his super-ego.  Where was He when 9-11 happened?  Where was that special fuck, then?  People are quick to forget, Tom.  This is just some sly political move on his part for fucking all that up.  He screws up all the fucking time.  He can’t save everybody or fix everything, and no one remembers that. And you can’t ever say ‘He’s only human’ because he’s fucking not.  He’s just as good as those dammed spics.  He’s a fucking illegal alien.  He got an unsubstantial country to give up their weapons and everybody forgets these fucking things?  I should’ve known this day was fucked.”  Harold calmed and stared down at his beer, he muttered to himself, “Because of that fucking coffee cup.”

“Jesus, Harold, what are you, jealous?” smirked Tom.

Tom glanced at an old broken man at the opposite end of the bar.  “Hey Gary, you hear this?  Fucking Harold, over here, is jealous of Superman!”

“Fuck you, Tom.”  Harold sniffed.

“Wow, you must’ve had a bad day Harold.  Go home, get some rest, maybe get your wife to help you release some of that anger, eh?”

As Tom walked away, Harold pulled out a five dollar bill, folded into a small square, and dropped it into his nearly full beer.  He got up from his stool, grabbed his knapsack from the hat rack, walked outside and took a deep breath.  He was ready to face the grey again.  The color had always calmed him, and the rain had resolved to a light mist.

Metropolis was in frenzy.  It seemed that the sound of the now deceased rain shrouded the concrete jungle’s roar. He missed the comfort of his expected discomfort signified by the rain. Harold regretted going to the bar.  He regretted being anywhere but on his living room sofa, for that matter.    Now he was enraged.  Like a muscle spasm that never manifests, he walked in circles around the entry to the underground metro, warding off spangers and trivial conversation, incessantly trying to regain control of his regret.

Well, obviously his decisions about the use of his inertia never satisfied him.

Ya, I guess I am a fucking psychologist.

You want me to read this or not?

As Harold sat on the F train, he noticed at least 7 copies of the Daily Planet being read.  He remembered the copy he grabbed to shield himself from the rain.  He took it out of his knapsack and stared at the front page.  “SUPERMAN DISHARMS NORTH KOREA”, it read in large letters.  The portrait was of Superman wearing an American diplomat sash.  The story that followed was written by retired Daily Planet editor Perry White.  Harold did not read the article.  He stared at the photograph for the entire train ride.  The salt from his brown eyes dripped onto the page making large blue, red, and yellow ink blots on Superman’s chest.  The tears fell from the same angry pool that dripped into the Superman mug that ruined his day, that Friday morning.

Big red and yellow “S”…?

Harold recalled the first time he had seen Superman.  The image was on the cover of his hometown’s paper, when he was but 5 years old.  Throughout his childhood, he was enthralled with Him, just as every young child was.  His father was reading that paper.  Harold had reached for the picture, repeatedly, to stare at what he surmised was the perfect human being.  Harold couldn’t recall what the story was about, but he could recall his father yelling and eventually back-handing him as a result of his incessant grabbing.  Papa Harold’s drinking, yelling, and hitting would be prevalent through Harold’s childhood until his father’s death from an apparent suicide.

Harold, of course, was the one who found his papa’s body in the family barn with a shotgun between his legs.  His boot on his right foot was removed; his big, right toe on the trigger.  Shortly after, Harold went to Metropolis University where he stayed for only a year of general studies.  He never went back to Smallville, where his mother still runs the sader milk farm.

No, I don’t recall.

He met Maggie at M.U., married her, and got the job at Pearl sometime later.

When Harold returned above ground, a couple blocks south of the Daily Planet building, it was night.  His four story apartment building stood alone; a community garden to the left (which Harold and his wife never had anything to do with), and a busy metropolitan street to its right.  He paused caddy-corner to the building, and stared at the far left second story window.  The light was on; usually his wife, Maggie, would be fast asleep before he returned home.  Maggie was probably preparing for sleep, at least he had hoped.

They rarely ever had dinner together anymore.  Maggie hated cooking, especially because she was the house cook at a local diner.  She usually brought home sub-par diner food for supper because all they had was a house full of condiments and mix-matched ingredients:  Pantries full of pasta, but no sauce, bread, yet no lunch meat, and rice, but no vegetables.  Sometimes, if Harold started his day early, he was lucky enough to get free breakfast at the diner.  This was rare, though, and usually, like that last Friday of April, he would resolve to intake coffee all day long at work, top it off with a beer or three at Tully’s, and pick at the left over fried chicken or spaghetti she brought home from the diner.   He loved eating alone; eating around other people annoyed him to an absolute degree.  He loved eating while watching old films; often falling asleep on the living room couch.

Keep it simple?


Do you guys want to know why, when, and for what reasons or do you guys even give a shit?

Alright, then…

As he left the elevator on the second floor, he ran into his neighbor Ms. Grady.  She was young, and quite striking. As an aspiring journalist she held an internship at the Daily Planet.  Any other day, Harold would have loved to bump into her.  He often romanticized about having an unobstructed affair with her.  Harold’s face, especially when she was around, turned lust red and his left eye would begin twitching in time with the myriad of dirty thoughts running through his mind.  He usually didn’t mind that she worked for a newspaper, which he hated, and usually went out of his way to say hello to her.  But because of his mood on that last day of April, he was destined to greet her with a glare.  “A Daily Planetarian, fucking great,” he thought.

“Hello, Mr. Sader!  Hear about the news?  I’m going out to meet some friends for a drink and celebrate.  I ran into Mrs. Sader, she seemed, well…”  Ms. Grady dropped her head, then quickly arose “…are you two going out to celebrate?”

“I don’t fucking care about any of that.  Good day, Ms. Grady.”

Harold quickly flipped his apartment door, leaving Ms. Grady with an astonished face.  The “bing” from the elevator’s arrival snapped her back into reality.  She walked on and quickly shrugged off Mr. Sader’s offense.

When Harold walked through the door, it was apparent that Maggie had cleaned the apartment.  Spic and perfectly span, she had rid of Harold’s lazy mess in the living room.  She washed away the residue of weeks Harold had spent eating in front of the television.  She folded the linens Harold used to sleep on the sofa every night.  And most importantly, organized the nonsensical doodles and ramblings Harold put to paper before he drifted off each night.  Harold scanned the apartment without saying a word to Maggie, who was lying on the couch watching the evening news.

“Hello Harold.”

“Hi.”

“I need to speak with you.  I wasn’t sure when you’d be returning.  It seems that I haven’t seen you for quite sometime and am unsure of your schedule these days.”

“What are you talking about?  I’ve been doing the same damn thing, everyday, for the last six years.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you…

“What happen with my notes?”  Harold had no interest in conversing with Maggie.  His brain was boiling over his writings she had cleaned up.

“I put them on the bookshelf…”

“Did you fucking read them?  That stuff is none of your…”

“I saw one page, it didn’t make any sense to me Harold.  Notes on some old film or rather.  A Barbara Stanwyck mov…”

“Double Indemnity,” Harold shot, annoyed with his wife’s confusion.

“Sure, Harold… They just seemed like summaries…”

Harold glared at her from the front door separating the kitchen and living room.

Maggie dropped her head, “I want a divorce, Harry.  I can’t do this anymore…”

Awaiting a response, Maggie shot her gaze to meet Harold’s.  Harold remained completely un-reactionary.

“With what happened in the news…the whole scare now gone…I spent the last six months worried that we would die like this, Harry.  My life has gotten into such a defunct cycle.  We never acknowledge one another anymore.  I forget why we got married in the first place; it’s been so long since we even touched.”

“Who is it?” Harold muttered.

“No one, Harry.  There’s been absolutely no-one else. The news today has made me realize that there’s hope for my life, yet.  I shouldn’t be forced to settle down with this unhappiness for the rest of my time on this planet.  Thirty isn’t old, it still leaves a lot of time for me to be happy, to do what I need to do and  to make sure I leave this planet fulfilled.”

“This planet…?”  Harold resolved, “You think for one minute that this isn’t all there is for us?  Because some fucking alien fixed things for this country that everything is going to be fucking okay for the rest of us; for the people who actually belong on your so-called ‘planet’?”

“I’m leaving tomorrow to stay with Shirley from work until I can get back on my feet.  Goodnight, Harold.  I hope that sometime we can speak cordially about this, at least before the paperwork is organized.”

Maggie lifted off the couch and started to undo her earrings.  She had not undressed from her work apron.  Harold realized that her compulsive cleaning and her work garb untouched meant that Maggie had been stewing with her decision for a while, waiting to break the news to him.  She snapped off the television and strolled into their bedroom.  She abruptly shut the door.

Harold had not moved from the stance he situated himself in since walking through the apartment door.  Once she retired to the bedroom, Harold moved towards the couch and dropped his knapsack on the living room floor.  Harold felt that Maggie’s news was in direct result of that coffee mug, and silently cracked a desperate snicker.  He had fully realized the cosmic disturbance of his fate, he felt, nothing less could’ve transpired when that cup entered his day, and now, finally, the worst was over.

He removed his damp coat and grabbed a hold of the remote.  Ready to retire the night, he clicked on the television and removed his shoes.  He perched his legs on the coffee table in a relaxing pose.  As the white light of the television’s electrons formed its picture, Harold saw the awful big red and yellow “S.”  Maggie had left the channel on the evening news.  He quickly changed the channel, and yet that “S” was the initial focus.  This was true for every channel he changed.  His legs fell from the coffee table and dropped apart on the floor in a stomp.  Harold sat up intensely on the couch.  He aggravatingly stared at the television as he scrolled through the channels.  After cycling through all the television stations for a third time, Harold slammed the remote into the coffee table causing it to explode in pieces of plastic and battery.  He placed his head between his hands and the salt from his eyes poured down his neck into his collared shirt.  He felt beaten, yet, this was the same a enraged salt as before.  He cried, and his teeth chattered.

Harold awoke about two hours later.  He looked at the screen, still dominated by Superman’s insignia, and started to shake.  As he came to, Harold heard Maggie’s voice.  He couldn’t quite make out the conversation, but automatically inferred she was conversing with another man.  He wiped his eyes and neck and blinked spastically.  He could slightly make out that Maggie was speaking of Superman.  Harold had known the phonetics of that word, very well.  The word triggered very angry emotions from him, every day.  She was, more than likely, discussing Superman’s recent triumph.  Just when Harold had caught wind of the conversation, Maggie’s voice had ceased.  He stared at the bedroom door.  The salt in his eyes stung.  He started to squint while still gritting his teeth.  His shaking turned violent, causing all the muscles in his body to vibrate.

No, I don’t think you know where it goes from here.  Actually, I think you fucks know very little.  I was watching, remember?

Fine…

The shower in the bedroom started.  Harold snapped out of his trance and charged over to the bookshelf to find his writings.  Once discovered, Harold shuffled through them frantically as if he were looking for a certain piece a paper.  He threw the unwanted sheets all around the living room; finally, towards the end of the stack, he had settled on one piece of paper.  The top, in big, bold handwriting read “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”  He scanned the illegible notes on the paper, searching only for one tiny piece of scribble.

Harold stood at the bookshelf, scanning that piece of paper over and over again.  The stream of the shower turned sporadic, signifying that she had stepped into it.  Harold noticed this auditory change and shifted his body towards the bedroom door.  He crumpled the paper only using his right hand, for he had found the passage on the page he was looking for.  He quickly threw the paper down and slowly crept to the bedroom door.  He entered.

The sound of the shower immersed Harold.  Now he could loosely see Maggie’s reflection off the slightly opened bathroom door’s dress mirror.  She was stunning amidst the steam and flourescent light.  She had always showered with the curtains open because she was severely claustrophobic. He stood and watched her lather and started to recoil from the decision he was about to make.  He started doubting his unrealized action when Maggie’s cellphone erupted a loud vibration against the wooden night stand where it laid.  Harold’s eyes floated to the screen to see who it may be, and was not at all shocked to find that the call log read DAVE SAL.  He surmised that the other man he had expected her of seeing, was none other than his boss, Dave Salinger…

No, they actually were not having an affair.

Dave was an old high-school fling of Maggie’s.  That’s how Harold got the job at Pearl.

Yes, Dave called Maggie to talk about my involvement, to see if I could help her.

So…

…He had more than enough motivation now, nevermind the hesitation from watching her before.  Maggie coughed from the shower, causing Harold to spring his entire body back in view of the bathroom.  He cringed, and he ran in.

Yes, I believe the blow was quick.  But he didn’t necessarily hit her.

What do I mean?

Well, Listen…

Harold charged into the bathroom and with one foul swoop of his right arm, flipped Maggie through the air.  Her shoulders buckled back and within milliseconds her legs hovered above her head.  She had no time to scream whatsoever.  In fact, the only sounds were when the tub faucet cracked the back of her head with a celery like snap, and when her body fell after, in a rhythmic thud.  He stood over her as the tub filled with watered-down blood, gushing out of the back her head.  Her bright blue eyes were wide open without blinking while the shower, still at full power, rained it’s salt on her face. Maggie’s body quivered a little.  Her left hand was hanging outside of the tub, and it twitched for a short time before quitting, forever.

Like I said, there was no weapon.  Well, discounting the tub and its parts, I suppose.

Yeah, that’s when I called.  But he used the phone only minutes after he killed her.

He called you guys?  I knew the man was deranged.

Too bad, she was paying good money for me to find out a good reason to divorce him and take whatever he had.

No, I don’t know what compelled her to tell him she was going to divorce him while I was still working for her.  Usually they wait until they’ve got something.


Now listen to me, everything I told you in this statement is true, aside from all the visceral and cerebral stuff.
Just take the “when” and the “where” from my side of things.

I just used this as practice for the book I’m going to write about all this.

My mother always told me I should be a writer, she there’s good money in it.  Anything probably pays better than this private dick – trash.

You think my story is biased because of this kook’s rant on the evening news?

Of course I do.  Everybody and their mother knows what he said.

Something like “I told you fucks, blah, blah, blah, He can’t be everywhere at once!”

Ya, I knew who it was about.  But that doesn’t mean I added all that shit about the coffee cup and invented his disposition towards the guy.  He sincerely hated the guy.

Ya, THE guy.  You know… Superman.


© Keats Ross, Dakota Slim Hymns, 2009

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